Engaged Faculty Spotlight: Youth Education and Organizing

August 8, 2019

This month, we spotlight faculty addressing youth education and organizing.

Dr. David Sobel, Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, researches how children represent causal relations and learn causal knowledge as well as children’s prosocial behavior, social and cultural learning, and their developing cognitive control. In collaboration with the Providence Children’s Museum, Dr. Sobel has established Mind Lab, a permanent engaged program at the museum in which students and researchers observe children’s play and parent-child interaction. Mind Lab is a program available to developmental researchers in Providence and also an open exhibit focused on exploration and discovery. The exhibition details developmental studies focused on learning and the means by which children represent knowledge and reason about the world. Since the inception of the program, Mind Lab has demonstrated to over 10,000 families the importance of developmental science. Dr. Sobel has also edited an anthology, "Cognitive Development in Museum Settings," on collaborative partnerships between researchers and museum practitioners. His course, "Children’s Thinking" (CLPS 610/611), examines a range of topics including memory, reasoning, categorization, perception, and children’s understanding of concepts such as space, time, mind, and biology.

Dr. Dario Valles, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA), examines the gendered and racialized components of migration from the perspective of youth in diasporic contexts. His research provides a comparative lens on Central American and Mexican transnational migration through ethnographic and sociolinguistic methods rooted in community engagement. Students in his course, "Youth Politics and Culture in the Americas: Explorations through Ethnography," work with community organizations or other sites centered on youth in a semester-long field research project using participant observation and other ethnographic methods. Valles’s current book project "Raising California Together" centers on the lives of Central American and Mexican migrant and refugee women and their activism as caregivers for non-kin children and families receiving welfare-to-work benefits. For the project, he conducted multiple years of community-engaged research working with a childcare unionization effort, volunteering with the campaign, and producing policy briefs via UCLA. His latest project examines how youth create shared forms of community across borders, rooted in engaged work with displaced migrant children in Tijuana, México and with Afro-diasporic hip-hop dance groups in Providence, R.I.

Dr. Andrea Flores, whose work we previously spotlighted in February 2019, continues her community-engaged teaching and research this fall with a course relevant to this month’s theme: "New Faces, New Challenges: Immigrant Students in U.S. Schools" (EDUC 0410A).